Yesterday WZOR leaked 4 new Windows 8.1 Update 1 ISOs, all build 9600.17024. What’s special about these ISOs is that they’re new editions, they are called “Windows 8.1 with Bing” (internally referred to as “CoreConnected”). They don’t seem to be any different from the other leaks, they don’t include any new, Bing-ish features, so it’s a mystery what this “with Bing” versions actually are.
UPDATE: The ADK has leaked and it has all the details on “Windows 8.1 with Bing”: Click here to read more!
What it certainly isn’t
Immediately after the leaks people began speculating about what this new Bing-edition could be. Some suggestions were very interesting, but most of this speculation can easily be debunked by looking at the pkeyconfig, editionmatrix and upgradematrix for this build. You can download them here if you want to take a look yourself. (Thanks arseny92!)
An OEM exclusive edition People suggested that the CoreConnected SKU would be an OEM-exclusive SKU, a special edition that PC manufacturers can bundle with their PCs, but won’t be available in stores. This idea is based on the fact that all the leaked ISO’s filenames include “FREO”, for example: “9600.17024.WINBLUE_GDR_S14SKU_PARTNER.140214-1700_X64FRE_CLIENT_CORECONNECTED_EN-US-IR3_CCONA_X64FREO_EN-US_DV5.iso“ The O means that this specific build is intended for OEMs, but a quick look at this build’s pkeyconfig reveals that there’s not only a OEM version, but also Retail and Volume Licensing options. See below….
In earlier leaks people discovered a new SKU called “ProfessionalStudent”. As far as I can see, ProfessionalStudent and CoreConnected aren’t related, they certainly aren’t the same SKU, pkeyconfig clearly list them as different editions. Interestingly enough, there’s no CoreStudent or ProfessionalConnected edition.
With/without Bing for non-EU/EU countries (like the N-versions)
The current versions of Windows already include Bing apps and deep Bing integration, therefore it’s normal to assume that these “With Bing” builds point to a new range of “Without Bing” builds. People, including the guys over at Neowin, suggested that there would be a version without Bing for EU countries to avoid another antitrust lawsuit, much like the N-editions without Windows Media Player.
The pkeyconfig includes entries for both Core, CoreN, CoreConnected and CoreConnectedN. This means CoreConnected certainly doesn’t replace the N versions (also, there’s no ProfessionalConnected to replace ProfessionalN). And while this doesn’t necessarily mean that CoreConnected doesn’t serve the same purpose as the N-versions, it would make more sense to have one EU version (without WMP or Bing) and one non-EU version with both WMP and Bing.
(The same goes for Professional, ProfessionalN, ProfessionalStudent and ProfessionalStudentN)
The UpgradeMatrix lists CoreConnected below Core and ProfessionalStudent below Professional, with the possibility of an upgrade to the ‘full’ Core/Professional. These new SKUs won’t add any extra features, in stead they might be cheaper, slimmed down versions or, as some suggested, ad-supported in some way.
So what is it?
While pkeyconfig can show us what this with Bing version isn’t it offers little clue as to what it actually is, here’s what we do know:
Different editions, different keys
One thing we do know is that these new SKUs require new keys, CoreConnected can’t be activated with a Core serial and ProfessionalStudent can’t be activated using a Pro key.
Another thing we can learn from pkeyconfig is that there’s a “with Bing” variation for the Core SKU, but also for CoreCountrySpecific and CoreSingleLanguage (CoreConnectedCountrySpecific and CoreConnectedSingleLanguage respectively). There’s no ‘connected’ version for the Professional SKU (i.e. “ProfessionalConnected”). (Similarly, there’s a ProfessionalStudent, but no CoreStudent SKU) This suggests that this new SKU is targeted at home users, it looks like it would be a cheap(ish), lower-end OS edition.
The UpgradeMatrix lists all possible upgrades from earlier Windows versions to Windows 8.1 Update 1. A Windows 7 to 8.1.1 Core or 8.1.1 Pro isn’t possible according to this build’s upgrade matrix, you’ll have to perform a clean install. What’s interesting is that both a full upgrade and a clean install are supported when upgrading Windows 7 or 8 to CoreConnected. The only upgrade paths to ProfessionalStudent listed are from ProfessionalStudent to ProfessionalStudent.
I’m not an expert when it comes to upgrade matrices, more upgrade paths might very well become available when Windows 8.1.1 reaches RTM…
Secondly, there’s the EditionMatrix, it lists the upgrades ‘within’ the same OS version, Core, for example, can be upgraded to Pro if you have a Pro key and Pro can be upgraded to Pro with WMC using the “Add Features” button.
CoreConnected can be upgraded to the regular Core version according to the EditionMatrix, similarly, ProfessionalStudent can be upgraded to Professional. This tells us that CoreConnected and ProfessionalStudent are lower (probably cheaper) versions of Core and Professional.
The only difference discovered so far is the IE version number, all previous, ‘regular’ leaks had IE11.0.3, even build 9600.17025, which should, in theory, be newer than the CoreConnected leak (9600.17024). CoreConnected’s IE was bumped to IE11.0.7, although no changes have been found so far.
If you compare this build’s buildtag to the one from the IE11 leak you’ll notice that they come from the same build lab!
Windows 8.1 CoreConnected leak: 6.3.9600.17024.winblue_gdr_s14sku_partner.140214-1700
IE11 for Windows 7 leak: 11.00.9600.17017.winblue_gdr_s14sku_partner.140205-1700 (Source, thanks ultrawindows for the tip!)
Apparently there is a specific build lab working on these new 8.1.1 SKUs and for some reason it is also working on IE11’s new Enterprise Mode. The version bump and the build lab suggest that IE is an important part of the new Bing editions, we just don’t know what exactly is different.
An OEM exclusive edition?
People suggested that the CoreConnected SKU would be an OEM-exclusive SKU, a special edition that PC manufacturers can bundle with their PCs, but won’t be available in stores. This idea is based on the fact that all the leaked ISO’s filenames include “FREO”, for example:
The O means that this specific build is intended for OEMs. A quick look at this build’s pkeyconfig reveals that there’s not only a OEM version, but also Retail and Volume Licensing options, however, this doesn’t mean Retail/VL builds will be released:
“Having a particular channel in key configuration only means that the named keys can exist (at least internally), but does not mean Microsoft is going to actually release on these channels.”
This means that CoreConnected is likely only intended for OEMs.
“Connected” / “with Bing” / “Student”
Finally there’s the terminology, ProfessionalStudent sounds pretty obvious, it appears to be a (slimmed down?) version of Pro, targeted at students (duh!).
Then there’s Windows 8.1 with Bing or CoreConnected. The connected part might refer to devices that are always connected to the Internet (e.g. connected standby)… “With Bing” might refer to more Bing apps or integration, but I have no idea what that could be…
This last part is purely speculation, nobody knows for sure what’s different or what Microsoft is planning on doing with these new SKUs. If you have any suggestions or corrections, feels free to let me know on twitter or leave a comment below.